Individual Rights & Due Process — The Magna Carta

Faced with the possibility of civil war, a politically weak King John is forced by the upper classes to sign a pledge to respect their rights, be bound by the law, and forbid arbitrary punishment. This pledge, the Magna Carta, is considered to be one of the most significant documents in English legal history. When it is signed on June 15, 1215, it is merely a listing of royal concessions, but it will come to guarantee such legal rights as the right to due process and a hearing before one's peers. In the early 17th century, Sir Edward Coke, Chief Justice under James I, holds that basic liberties for all British citizens — not just the aristocracy — are guaranteed by the Magna Carta. He declares, furthermore, that any act of Parliament that goes against common law is null and void. This ruling is said to be the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court, which has the power to nullify laws enacted by Congress.

Magna Carta
"No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned or in any other way destroyed... except by the lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land."
The Magna Carta